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Topic: (Not) All about Biden (Read 745 times)

(Not) All about Biden

The U.S. has had a new President since January 6, 2021... And the usual suspects seem completely uninterested — in him, his administration, and in how he affects the rest of the world.
That seems to me an odd and unnerving circumstance...

So -forthwith- please feel free to opine on this topic!

To begin in the middle, as it were, Biden's foreign policy seems — shall I say, confused? :)
 
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The isolated and unpredictable strongman in the Kremlin is not shy when it comes to reminding the world of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. If anyone “tries to stand in our way,” Putin warned on the eve of the invasion of Ukraine, they would face “consequences with such as you have never seen in your entire history.” The returning possibility of nuclear war may be just one of the ways in which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought our holiday from history to an abrupt end. But it’s the most alarming.


Into this tense standoff steps Joe Biden, seemingly convinced that he is the man for this fraught moment even as he demonstrates otherwise with nearly every public utterance. On a recent trip to Europe, the most important diplomatic mission of his presidency, he could barely open his mouth without issuing a foolhardy provocation. He threatened regime change in Moscow, implied that American troops were about to be sent into Ukraine and suggested the United States would respond “in kind” to a Russian use of chemical weapons.

These statements were widely labeled “gaffes.” To be sure, they were the misstatements of an aging politician not known for his rhetorical dexterity. But they also revealed hotheadedness, ill-discipline and self-righteousness: traits that were identifiable even in a younger, more alert Biden — and traits that now make the world a more dangerous place.


Is it that Biden, being elderly and -perhaps- non compos mentis preclude not just ridicule by even criticism?
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“The adults are in charge again,” bragged Biden’s advisors when they entered the White House. This claim of competence was soon disproved by events, but it also obscured a tension in Biden’s foreign policy. The president elected on a promise to restore America’s alliances has also shown a clear determination to pare back America’s global role. The withdrawal from Afghanistan highlighted that contradiction: a move built on a serious conviction of the need to acknowledge the limits of American power — that enraged our closest allies.
But — noone here...?

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At the time, many foreign policy restrainers and realists welcomed a president who appeared to see the world the same way as they. But in Ukraine, the administration has stumbled into a strategy that pleases no one. The camp that saw the logic of the Afghanistan withdrawal, however botched its execution, may have welcomed Biden’s explicit ruling out of escalatory steps like a no-fly zone and his willingness to let Europeans take the lead in assisting Ukraine. But they cannot be comfortable with the administration’s drift toward regime change in Moscow as a US objective.

Biden’s public declaration that Putin “cannot remain in power” may have been a gaffe that was quickly walked back, but the policy steps the US president has taken suggest that the removal of his Russian counterpart is his ultimate goal. From ratcheting up sanctions to admonishing Putin as a “war criminal” and a “thug,” these are not the steps of an administration putting de-escalation first.
Are Biden's words merely campaigning? For his Party, in the mid-term elections? For himself, in '24?

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Those who favor a bolder approach might agree with some of Biden’s rhetoric but find worryingly little action to back up the talk. That hazardous gap between rhetoric and policy isn’t limited to Ukraine. At a dangerous moment in history, Biden seemingly refuses to acknowledge the difficult choices and tough tradeoffs that lie ahead. This administration appears to think that Putin will be gone, Ukraine will be free, China will be contained, a deal will be reached with Iran that doesn’t give another regime a nuclear weapon and the US economy will fend off “Putin’s price rises.” Everything, in other words, will be just fine. And all without a meaningful change of course in US policy.

Since I'll likely be accused of partisanship anyway, let me add the impertinent question: What foreign policy?

(Please read the whole article... The author's conclusion is -I think- what used to be called "Speaking Truth to Power!")
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
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Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #1
Since I'll likely be accused of partisanship anyway
The thing is, if we take all this at face value it means that Biden is rather similar to Trump. And apparently Trump is great when he does the same things.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #2
To begin in the middle, as it were, Biden's foreign policy seems — shall I say, confused? :)
To be worth talking to, you need to prove two things:
1. You know what foreign policy is (hint: Trump had no foreign policy whatsoever)
2. That Biden is worse than Trump (you have earlier stood firm in the irrational belief that Trump somehow had successes, which he doesn't; Biden will be worth talking about only if he is at least as bad as Trump)

Amazingly, for all the evil and stupid things that Trump did, he did not manage to overturn USA or the world. This, to me, indicates that there is a rather strong internal logic to the American administrative tradition that stays the course regardless of who is in power.[1] I'd say that while W's excesses were *not* contained or constrained, but his excesses activated a counter-reaction that contained and constrained Trump's excesses. The counter-reaction is not really a counter to anything, but rather it is the status quo of the administrative establishment. There is natural resistance or sluggishness when there is an uncivilised assault on the employed officials, which is what Trump did, very uncivilised.

The administrative establishment have their own internal rules and procedures that restrict what the president's policies and directives can do. The policies and directives need not just be signed and published, but turned into operative procedures for the officials who are supposed to carry them out, plus there needs to be follow-up whether the directives are really being followed through, and repercussions when they are not being followed through.

The one responsible for such communication and supervision of the administrative establishment is mainly the president's chief of staff, but also the vice president. Trump had Ginni Thomas, who loves toxic score-settling based on rumours and fits of rage probably even more than Trump himself, i.e. perfect for him, but bad for everyone else.

Biden has Ron Klain, an unconspicuous establishment functionary without scandals, a perfect fit for good relations with state officials. Biden also has Kamala Harris and Jen Psaki. I must confess that I am very jealous that Biden has Jen Psaki. I need a secretary like her very very much.
This phenomenon is present in Western European countries too, e.g. Sweden and Belgium can be unable to form a government (called "government crisis") for years, yet the country keeps functioning just fine, because state officials keep doing their job.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #3
This phenomenon is present in Western European countries too, e.g. Sweden and Belgium can be unable to form a government (called "government crisis") for years, yet the country keeps functioning just fine, because state officials keep doing their job.
I don't quite know how Sweden works, but note that besides the state apparatus Belgium is also a federal state. Most of daily life is governed by Flanders and Wallonia respectively. The federal government takes care of foreign policy, like sending parts of the Belgian army over to Romania. In 2011 that's pretty much an non-issue. And even though the corona response was nationally coordinated, my vaccines were all paid for by Flanders.

There's a joke here in Belgium that goes something like this: a dozen fresh army recruits are asked where they're from. One says Flanders, the other Wallonia, and on it goes. But the last guy proudly says Belgium, raising eyebrows. They ask him where he was born. He says Ukraine, but he's lived in Belgium for 15 years and he's fully naturalized.

A decent chunk of foreign… policy, relations, whatever you want to call it is also taken care of by the regions. E.g., Flanders has several agreements with the Netherlands for even more intense cooperation than Belgium has as part of the Benelux, for example the Language Union and the Cultural Treaty. The regions have had the power to enter such agreements since 1995. Belgium used to enter similar agreements on behalf of the regions prior.

Some Flemish nationalists like the mayor of Antwerp dream of a united Netherlands and Flanders.[1] Others keep talking about how Belgium is a "banana republic" compared to the Netherlands, which is so much better, but we should definitely have an independent Republic of Flanders.
I'm not necessarily opposed, though I will say I explicitly moved to Belgium.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #4
Doesn't depend on federal or otherwise. Sweden is not federal. And the same seems to work in Netherlands.

What needs to be in place is a constitutional measure for an automatic state budget just in case the government is not there. Normally, the government decides on a year's budget and pushes it through the parliament. In Sweden, if the parliament cannot decide on a government, then last year's budget is re-applied. As far as I can understand, USA has the same rule.

In Estonia (and many other countries), there are instead constitutional measures to provide for a fallback government formed around the parliament speaker in case of a prolonged government crisis. So, there are two main practical solutions to a government crisis: The state operates on last year's budget or there are provisions for a fallback government that should decide on a crisis budget.

The main idea is that things work out as long as the officials get paid. It's fine when the state institutions have sufficient internal work ethic/culture and they enjoy sufficient social trust autonomously.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #5
Doesn't depend on federal or otherwise. Sweden is not federal. And the same seems to work in Netherlands.
I didn't say it depends on it, but that in Belgium it matters even less than in the Netherlands.

The Flemish Region takes care of:

  • Spatial planning
  • Home and living (e.g., rules around renting, constructing social homes)
  • Environment
  • Nature
  • Water
  • Agriculture, fishery
  • Economy
  • Tourism
  • Animal welfare
  • Energy policy
  • Jobs
  • Infrastructure, transit
  • Scientific research
  • International relations

In the Netherlands some of those are separate entities (e.g., water has elected waterships) but most of it is the purview of the national government. This means that as you said, in the Netherlands it will proceed pretty much exactly as last year, while in Flanders/Wallonia the regional governments can implement changes independently.

Then there's also the Flemish Community, not quite the same thing as the Flemish Region. Bilingual Brussels is also part of the Flemish Community.

  • Culture
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Welfare
  • Justice

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #6
Yup, looks like Belgium's regions have strong and wide autonomous operations. Good for them. [Edit]But it matters in this context how the operations are funded. Do the regions have their own taxes and are able to draw own taxes directly to own budget? In Estonia and Sweden, municipalities have the right to impose some municipal taxes. In Sweden the municipalities also in fact use this capacity. In Estonia they do not. But either way, the tax money goes to the state and the municipalities need to wait until their share gets distributed to them from the state. And this municipal tax base is so limited that any bigger project, say a major reconstruction of a kindergarten, not to mention a whole new kindergarten, needs external funding, state support or private sponsors.[/edit]

In Sweden, the government proposes its budget to the parliament. The opposition (in the parliament) makes an alternative budget proposal. Both proposals get debated. It has happened that the opposition proposal wins and the government needs to govern based on the opposition's budget. I can imagine how demotivating this can be for the government.

In Estonia, there is just one budget proposal. The government's budget either goes through in the parliament, some modifications may be voted into it, or it doesn't go through. The latter equals a vote of no confidence to the government and a new government needs to be formed. In Estonia, government crises have not been so bad yet that they'd need a fallback government. Presidential elections in Estonia are much worse than any government crisis has been. Each presidential election has occurred based on a *different* set of procedures, fallback measures, and ad hoc compromises. The people, rightfully in my opinion, do not consider the last and current presidents legitimate at all, but the ire is mitigated by the fact that the president hardly does or decides anything, and that the last and current presidents are inconscpicuous little bureaucrats.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #7
it means that Biden is rather similar to Trump. And apparently Trump is great when he does the same things.
If the first is not true or accurate, then the second is immaterial! :)

But:
From where some got the idea that I ever thought Trump was "great" still mystifies me. (Although I can understand, given politics in the U.S., why some charge me of mere partisanship...)

I scoffed when he announced. I voted for Sen. Ted Cruz (R - TX) in the Republican primary. I was sceptical, when Trump won the nomination; and I was sceptical about his abilities and intentions, when he won the general election[1], I was guardedly optimistic: He might, just might really really intend to "drain the Swamp!

I cringed when he spoke (in public). I was a little surprised when he spoke "officially".... And I was  pleasantly surprised to discover his moderate conservatism, when viewing his actual governing!
His foreign policy -such as it was- harkened back to the Founders: America was to be "the friend to Liberty everywhere, but the guardian only of her own" — and he seemed to recognise that Congress adopts treaties for the U.S., and declaring War is their responsibility!
(We can discuss economics some other time.)

Trump had his failures. But I'm still impressed by his successes.

And by "admitting" such I become too unsophisticated to know anything? :) Sure: That's the time-honored view of the petty functionary. (Or if the term is still understood: The subject — as opposed to the Citizen.) :faint:
Even though I voted for him! I was well-aware of Hillary Clinton's failings...and determined that she never secure real power!
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
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Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #8
His foreign policy -such as it was- harkened back to the Founders: America was to be "the friend to Liberty everywhere, but the guardian only of her own" — and he seemed to recognise that Congress adopts treaties for the U.S., and declaring War is their responsibility!
:lol: :lol: :jester: :jester: :faint:

I'm not going to ask you to explain how you got to this. Because there cannot be any reasonable explanation. Besides, you don't do explanations anyway, so...

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #9
[Edit]But it matters in this context how the operations are funded. Do the regions have their own taxes and are able to draw own taxes directly to own budget? In Estonia and Sweden, municipalities have the right to impose some municipal taxes. In Sweden the municipalities also in fact use this capacity. In Estonia they do not. But either way, the tax money goes to the state and the municipalities need to wait until their share gets distributed to them from the state. And this municipal tax base is so limited that any bigger project, say a major reconstruction of a kindergarten, not to mention a whole new kindergarten, needs external funding, state support or private sponsors.[/edit]
If I recall correctly there have been some fairly large changes fairly recently. Starting in 2015 (?) the federal government has given the regions something like a billion less each, and in turn they make up for it in personal taxes. It's basically just some magic with numbers to make the budget work. Look, we saved a few billion federally without raising taxes, let the regions do it… They have something like 35% budgetary autonomy, unless that's increased since. Before 2015 (?) that almost all came down from the federal government.

Among other things, Carantonis refers to the car registration tax. It is noted that certain luxury models of BMW, with a purchase price of approximately 80,000 euros, are charged a registration tax of 4,957 euros in Wallonia and Brussels. In Flanders, on the other hand, only 468.90 euros has to be paid. This has to do with Flanders' decision to calculate the tax on emissions, while in Wallonia and Brussels it is still calculated on power. Since the BMW in question has a particularly high power output, but also records good ecological performance, the differences are particularly high.

Registration duties on real estate are also much more advantageous in Flanders than in the other regions of the country. In Flanders, 10 percent of the selling price is applied, compared to 12.5 percent in Brussels and Wallonia. On a 300,000 euro home, this results in an advantage of 7,500 euros in Flanders. But in Flanders, these amounts can also be deducted when buying a larger home at a later date. If 400,000 euros has to be paid for this, 40,000 euros will ultimately be charged in registration duties in Flanders, compared to 87,500 euros in Brussels and Wallonia. Moreover, in Brussels the discounts for modest houses have been abolished. Belgians also still have to pay taxes in their own municipality. Only in Flanders, however, are there a number of exceptions to this. In De Panne, Knokke or Koksijde the municipal surcharges are 0.0 percent. In the Walloon municipalities of Mouscron or Visé, on the other hand, this rises to 8.8 percent.  Finally, in Wallonia there is still a tax of 100 euros per television set in the home to be paid. In Flanders and Brussels, these levies have been abolished for a long time.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Edit:
PS The Oosterweel Connection (3.5 billion euro) is financed by an agreement between the Flemish Region and Antwerp. Logically give or take 65% of that will be federal given what I stated above, but it doesn't require any special allocations at the federal level afaik.

https://www.oosterweelverbinding.be/nieuws/akkoord-over-financiering-oosterweelverbinding

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #10
The one responsible for such communication and supervision of the administrative establishment is mainly the president's chief of staff, but also the vice president. Trump had Ginni Thomas
Your TDS is phenomenally detrimental to your powers of perception! (You can easily look up the {i]actual[/i] succession of Trump's chiefs-of-staff... If you'd not "do my homework for me", I will address the pros and cons of each, in turn. :) ) Were you familiar with the history of the American Presidency -as I am- you'd know that turnover in that position is usually rapid and frequent.
The VP's role is -except for his mostly ceremonial duties, as President of the Senate- actually determined by the President. Beyond attending foreign State Funerals, he's usually expected to interact with the House and Senate, in furtherance of the President's policies.
Added to this simple scheme is the Cabinet -chiefs of the various departments of the government- who serve "at the pleasure of the President"  —  meaning that he hires them and he can fire them: They're at will employees.

Of course, there's also the Bureaucracy  — so called "Civil Servants".
A good bureaucrat is one who is: Able and proficient, effective and conscientious — and neither pretentious nor presumptuous.
Government by bureaucracy is all-but guaranteed to bring the pretentious and the presumptuous to the top of their hierarchies...
Biden also has Kamala Harris and Jen Psaki. I must confess that I am very jealous that Biden has Jen Psaki. I need a secretary like her very very much.
:) You must be mesmerized by (moderate) female beauty!
Harris was my state's Attorney General, and then one of our Senators... And I knew of her raw lust for power in the form of political office from her stint as San Francisco's District Attorney. (She'd had other "government" jobs, ebbing  from her position as "Willie Brown's mattress", as one wag put it!)
Psaki, whom I know only from her performative art as Biden's Press Secretary, is exceptionally good at prevarication and non sequitur responses to honest questions. (Do you need someone lie for you and help you avoid responsibility? :) )
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
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Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #11
@Frenzie What I am most interested in is whether the regions have their own tax authority with their own tax officers and do the regional tax authorities operate their own tax accounts. If yes, then the regions only need to add an army and voila, they are de facto independent. If the federal state allows regions to have regional tax authorities, it is a brave step towards governing itself out of existence.

In Sweden, there are also things called "regions". These are territorial hospital and public transit districts with their own elected officials in place. As far as I have understood, these "regions", formerly called "län", operate their own accounts of collecting revenue that gets allocated to their own budget, but their jurisdiction is limited to funding hospitals and public transit alone.[1]

In Estonia, there are no meaningful regions/counties. The country is divided into territorial hospital districts, and other separate districts that operate public transit. These have no elected representation from below, only appointed management from the state. These districts do not even have any meaningful borders; there are constant "reforms" as to what they do and how. They are in effect state-owned companies managing regional hospitals and public transit. Well, they are not really managing either - they are basically tender offices inviting private companies to perform the actual functions.

Municipalities are more stable units, governed by councils elected by the local population. Tax money gets allocated (by the state) to municipalities based on the population count of the municipalities. The facilities to count the population and to collect and allocate the taxes all belong to the state. If municipalities feel that the state is making some missteps in the procedures or that the next budget is irresponsible, any riot they could raise would not be able to disrupt state governance.
I'd appreciate if jax can confirm/deny/elaborate on this.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #12
@Frenzie What I am most interested in is whether the regions have their own tax authority with their own tax officers and do the regional tax authorities operate their own tax accounts.
They do, but most taxes are still done by the federal tax service.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #13
there cannot be any reasonable explanation
You mean, for Biden's ignorance or corruption? :) No, you don't see it — yet.
You remarked that Trump had no foreign policy. I can only presume that you think "foreign policy" is what diplomats and ambassadors  do. (That would be a case similar to rule by Bureaucracy, with the most presumptuous and most pretentious taking the lead... Perhaps necessary, with a fool or a bumbler ostensibly running the show! But -as a colleague said before the 2020 election- Joe had decades of Foreign Policy experience, having been wrong in every position he'd  taken!)

But I'll assume you don't know that Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, the Iranian nuclear "It'll be a decade before they can nuke us!" deal, the reaffirmation of our traditional relations with Israel and the peace deals facilitated by his administration  in the Middle East; the renegotiation of NAFTA. and the reconsideration of NATO...
And I don't know how you feel about the War Powers Act, but it seemed to me that Trump was not himself a fan: The President has, under the Constitution, the power to use the military to defend and protect American citizens (life and property) abroad; and, of course, to repel invasion or suppress rebellion... Indeed, such is his responsibility. But, originally, only Congress could declare war.; and the use of the military to defend or promote America's interests is rightly seen as illegitimate. In addition, conflicts involving the military must be reviewed and sanctioned by Congress, for limited periods of time. (Meaning, the President can't "make war" on his own prerogative.)

I feel sure my slight "explanatory" exposition will fail to satisfy you, ersi. :) (If only I would just join the refrain "Trump Bad!" with the rest of the proles, eh?)

My apologies, folks: My i5 is constantly running > 160ºF, and the fan a-top it can't seem to get within -800 RPM of its documented minimum speed. Need I add that my machine is woefully unresponsive? :(
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
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Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #14
@Frenzie So Belgium's regions are like Sweden's regions, only that the jurisdiction of the regions is much more expanded in Belgium, and the federal government trusts that the regions won't run away :) I think that Belgium is horribly overgoverned. The EU is headquartered in Brussels and that's far more government than anybody could possibly need.

(You can easily look up the actual succession of Trump's chiefs-of-staff... If you'd not "do my homework for me", I will address the pros and cons of each, in turn. :) )
No, thanks. First, you have not shown that you have any idea what foreign policy is. Second, you have not pointed out any similarity/difference between Trump and Biden that would demonstrate what you expect from the actual function of the president. You only know the slogans from the declaration of independence, constitution, and federal papers. Slogans are of zero relevance when it comes to the everyday function of the president.

You have even less understanding of the functions of chief of staff and why I brought up Ginni Thomas rather than Mark Meadows or Paul Manafort. You do not know any of them, particularly their relevance to the formation of Trump's staff. And you do not know the importance of the cabinet's communications with civil servants.

I have been an office employee all this century. Normally/ideally the office employee does not have to know who the boss is and what the boss wants. Work is fully governed by routine procedures, and should be, completely regardless who the boss is. If the boss wants meaningful things, this can be considered second best. But far more often it is highly disruptive to normal functions of civil servants when the prime minister or department secretary or such interferes. Their meddling prevents work, hardly ever helps.

You characteristically fail to mention any of the outrageous and scandalous firings by Trump. The firings are objectively bad to state operations. Your failure to take note of this indicates that you do not really know or care what is good or bad and why. You even do not care that Trump's firings time and again overreached his legal functions and presented conflicts of interest. Nothing of the sort has been noted of Biden as of yet - and won't be.

Were you familiar with the history of the American Presidency -as I am- you'd know that turnover in that position is usually rapid and frequent.
If you were familiar with any other country besides America, you'd know that "usually rapid and frequent" turnover of presidents and prime ministers does not present any sort of virtue at all, but meh, no hope with you...

Added to this simple scheme is the Cabinet -chiefs of the various departments of the government- who serve "at the pleasure of the President"  —  meaning that he hires them and he can fire them: They're at will employees.
Which is how kings' courts work too. Which means nothing good per se and provides no practical guidelines for conducting governance.

Of course, there's also the Bureaucracy  — so called "Civil Servants".
A good bureaucrat is one who is: Able and proficient, effective and conscientious — and neither pretentious nor presumptuous.
Yet another area where you clearly need to be potty-trained and spoonfed from absolute baby steps up. Hopeless.

Harris was my state's Attorney General, and then one of our Senators... And I knew of her raw lust for power in the form of political office from her stint as San Francisco's District Attorney. (She'd had other "government" jobs, ebbing  from her position as "Willie Brown's mattress", as one wag put it!)
Then you cannot doubt that, Biden faltering and failing, USA is in able hands. Whereas my point is - USA was in able hands of the civil servants even when Trump was running amok and wreaking havoc. And presidentship was turned over pretty much as per protocol despite his personal adamant opposition. Pretty much everything that the state establishment did despite Trump, not because of him, was good for the country, its interests and policies.

In contrast, Biden is causing no disruption or scandal either in state operations or in everyday lives of the citizens. You are clearly not competent to judge who is the better or worse president. You are a blindly partisan Trumpite because it takes a special sort of wilful ignorance to fail at an easy comparison like this.

Psaki, whom I know only from her performative art as Biden's Press Secretary, is exceptionally good at prevarication and non sequitur responses to honest questions. (Do you need someone lie for you and help you avoid responsibility? :) )
Good administration displays composure and patience even when dishonest and disrespectful questions are presented. Jen Psaki does it much better than any of the Trump's press secretaries. Trump's press secretaries went along with Trump's moronic counterfactual and sloganeering style.

You remarked that Trump had no foreign policy. I can only presume that you think "foreign policy" is what diplomats and ambassadors  do.
No. And if this is the only thing you can presume, then you are not qualified to presume anything.

Diplomats and ambassadors keep up foreign relations. Foreign relations need to be kept up as per foreign policy, which are the guidelines to diplomats and ambassadors. Normally a good foreign policy is informed by geopolitics, i.e. a sense of geography plus history, things that Trump never had.

An important indication of *having a foreign policy* is that the foreign relations are consistent, i.e. that the relations do not turn suddenly different, like the EU suddenly discovered in 2014 that, oops, turns out that Putin might be evil and maybe some sanctions are in order. Or like Trump trashing and "re-negotiating" *all* the treaties with *all* the countries, neighbouring or distant, regarding trade or security, "fell in love" with North Korea's Kim and so on and so forth, whenever wherever whatever. It was sheer posturing for domestic audience, not an implementation of a foreign policy. He did not have any.

But I'll assume you don't know that Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, the Iranian nuclear "It'll be a decade before they can nuke us!" deal, the reaffirmation of our traditional relations with Israel and the peace deals facilitated by his administration  in the Middle East; the renegotiation of NAFTA. and the reconsideration of NATO...
To my recollection, perhaps only the Israel bit has not been discussed on this forum. So, you assume too much too wrong. You are not qualified to assume anything.

Moreover, you have not demonstrated how any of this amounts to having a foreign policy as opposed to brazenly pandering to the domestic base (and to illegal personal interests such as Ivanka's fashion brand and Kushner's property peddling), how any of this was objectively good for the geopolitical or economic interests of USA, how it strengthened alliances or restrained enemies, etc. - things that foreign policy is supposed to serve.

I feel sure my slight "explanatory" exposition will fail to satisfy you, ersi. :) (If only I would just join the refrain "Trump Bad!" with the rest of the proles, eh?)
It wasn't explanatory. You offered no explanations, no substance, no comprehension of the underlying issues. But based on the count of the relevant keywords, I can say you remarkably stayed on topic :up: 

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #15
First, you have not shown that you have any idea what foreign policy is.
Gotta run! My computer needs time to cool down, and attempting to use Opera Mail (M2) for an Outlook mail IMAP account (Office365...) corrupted its mail store. A restart -after a decent rest :) should accommodate both...

And you, my friend, might want to consider icing that ego of yours: The swelling will likely go down eventually, but why wait? What if you want or need to wear a hat?  :angel:

Later, I'll deal with the fascinating list of my faults, shortcomings and disabilities — as per ersi:cheers:
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
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Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #16
Well, that was fun! I got my morning paper, and put it aside while I caught a few hours of fitful sleep... Waking, I found the sky still overcast and -to me- the temperature chilly. Nonetheless, I took my coffee and paper out to the front porch, where I can smoke, and did the few puzzles the S.F. Chronicle provides — when they feel like it! I read the comics (and yesterday's Horoscope: A useful feature, that, and innovative!) and fired up my computer.
Opera Mail fixed itself and my little i5 seems quite happy running at ~165ºF. So I left it to its own devices while I tackled some chores I'd been putting off: Topping off my car's coolant (I'm scheduled to drop it off with my mechanic Thursday next week for some serious and likely costly work...) and, while I was in the parts store, I figured Why not replace the thermostat? Well, that question had an actual answer: Because I don't have a 10mm deep socket... :) Leaving the job half finished, I goodnaturedly reminded myself that I was still "recovering" from a stroke, and any sort of exercise I can get  -since I don't exercise for the sake of exercise- was helpful.
Tomorrow my eldest great-nephew will return from Sack o' Tomato (...what my 2nd wife calls our state capitol) and bring me the very socket I need! (My, what a miraculous change modern cellular service has wrought on our telephone habits! To me, it seems like only yesterday even calls within an area code -if they were a town or two away- had a toll... ) And, if the sun stays out and the job gets finished and the v6 in my car runs again without over-heating, I'll resume my gallivanting.

So, to get on with it: I freely admit that I don't have "a high school education, got at University" that seems so popular... In fact, I hold but few credentials; certificates from technical schools -ranging from A to B (aircraft maintenance, bookkeeping).
Back in '78 I think it was, I enrolled yet again in the local JC, taking a course in mechanical drawing (I still have the book, and most of the tools of the trade); a few weeks into the course the instructor told me that I really didn't need it... Such things happen to me.
I've enjoyed reading since I was 8 or so. And I'll read almost anything. Popular fiction -except for detective stories and speculative/science fiction- doesn't interest me. However, I have found that serious fiction has never stopped being created. As my search for today's serious fiction continues, the wealth of previous generations, nay , epochs! sustains me. And memoir and biography are handy genres to wade into now and then.
Since the advent of the internet, I don't really have to haunt university libraries' stacks. But used book stores are still my guilty pleasure (an odd but productive venue for old and unusual books is the estate sale, where treasures might be found for pennies!); if nothing else, these places give me needed practice in speaking softly!!
Also important to my quiver of investigational arrows is the experience gained by talking to people. (Politicians, professors, farmers, whoever works with the public or dares pause in their path through my vicinity; anyone I might find who I suspect of having information or expertise I need or desire...) Talking to people is a wonderfully pleasant way to learn; one which perforce give you the advantage of other viewpoints.
And -as the late, great Yogi said: You can see a lot just by looking! Taking in the sights is a profitable pastime, too.

One thing I don't think I can be accused of is "the love of theory". (Early begun and continuous study in the fields of Philosophy and Psychology keep me apprised of the deficiencies of much academic work.) That is, I have the tools to distinguish good from bas in most technical areas of study. And I am quite comfortable thinking for myself instead of trying to accommodate the opinions of others as a means to gain their approval.

So, as ersi often says, I'm not qualified to opine or extrapolate. Unless -he'll insist- I use only the stale second-hand categories and techniques of analysis he learned when he was young, anything I say lacks authority...
Perhaps the phenomenon of our bifocalism called the "blind spot" best makes sense of his Just So attitude towards other points of view. :) Perspective eludes him!
In short, what he faults me for is not being him... :)

(I'd only add that I'm beginning to see a pattern: Things that don't work well run too hot. I myself am nowadays always cold...)
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #17
Here's another topic for you. Daily greeting of the flag in schools (Pledge of Allegiance) is mandated in 45 states in USA. How is it in California? How was it in your school? Your thoughts: Good? Bad? Should be kept or abolished?

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #18
I assume you won't mind if I answer here? :)

Good questions, all!
Pledge of Allegiance mandates:
Passes Constitutional muster. But as the national sense of community drifted from the flowing  river of the "Melting Pot" to the strands of multiculturalism and an enforced pluralism its utility is moot.[1] (And probably detrimental, nowadays.) The only real difficulty with it was brought on by the phrase "under God", which for some reason offended someone's anti-religious sensibilities...[2] Even so, I find the Pledge itself inoffensive; but if that phrase it too much for "modern" folk I'd gladly remove it! (You know it was only added in -I believe- 1953? While I understand the reasons for the phrase and its inclusion, it's arguably superfluous.)
I'd think most would recognize that the Pledge doesn't run afoul of the First Amendment: Neither the Free Speech nor the Establishment clause.[3]
In short, I'm for it. But not fanatically so; until the normal sense of community and a sense of shared values returns, there are more pressing matters to tend to and a distinct lack of the tools needed to recreate them. (Democracy of any stripe is indeed difficult!)

To my knowledge, it's not required in any of California's public[4] schools... My children (and most of my extant family) were educated here, and the lack hasn't seemed to do them harm... They -again, most of them- have acquired the feelings prompted by the words. (Perhaps through mere good example-ing?] :) )
In my schools (East Boston, Cambridge) it was required in the younger grades. It never bothered me; but my habitual tardiness or truancy in High School obviated any qualms I might have had. (I enlisted in the Air Force as soon as I was able; and I've never regretted doing so....[5][6]

I trust I've answered your questions in a way that meets with your approval, for clarity and completeness anyway. I'll vouch for my honesty! :) (You'll just have to take my word for that!)
Private schools are not constrained; so, there should be actual data on the subject. (But I've not searched: The topic itself doesn't interest me.)
Yes, I know more than I care to about Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her brood! I'm thankful she's never been a close neighbor; I suspect she was a thoroughly disagreeable person.
Only the most ardent pedant would complain "But it's an oath! It's against my religion/philosophy/cussedness -multiple-choice :) Love of country is normal, natural, and should be cultivated in the young... Not "My country, right or wrong!" but "My country, for better or worse!" Yes, that's live the traditional wedding vow; but we've always had no-fault divorce for citizenship! :)
The adjective means the opposite in the U.S. as the British usage.
In 1981 an Army Reserves recruiter enthusiastically pursued the chore of making me an officer! We -he and I- had to travel by Freeway almost 90 miles to find a full-bird colonel, before it was determined that I was already too old to attend OCS,,, Thankfully! In All honesty, I don't think I'd have made a very good officer, if for no other reason than my lackadaisical attitude towards "authority"! :)
And officers are appointed by Congress, subject to re-activation by the executive at any time... Unlike enlisted personnel who, once they've been discharged have no further obligation — beyond what their conscience dictates.
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #19
Amazingly, for all the evil and stupid things that Trump did, he did not manage to overturn USA or the world. This, to me, indicates that there is a rather strong internal logic to the American administrative tradition that stays the course regardless of who is in power.[1] I'd say that while W's excesses were *not* contained or constrained, but his excesses activated a counter-reaction that contained and constrained Trump's excesses.

My commonly repeated point. The country with the best bureaucracy wins in the long run. That has been Sweden's secret of success.

However, while Sweden has a partially excellent bureaucracy, this is not a fixed state. A bureaucracy must be in perpetual renewal, and to do that we need a government capable of implementing reforms, and too many minority governments have prevented those from happening. That is a medium-term problem for Sweden.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #20
In short, I'm for it. But not fanatically so; until the normal sense of community and a sense of shared values returns, there are more pressing matters to tend to and a distinct lack of the tools needed to recreate them. (Democracy of any stripe is indeed difficult!)
I am yet to find an American who'd think the children's daily flag-worship remarkable in any way. But let me tell you that it's extraordinarily remarkable. I am not aware of evidence that even Third Reich or Stalinist USSR had this level of indoctrination and brainwashing for children. They sure as hell had indoctrination and brainwashing and it had its effects, but this did not come in a daily worship ritual for all school-going children.

I attended primary school during Brezhnev era. There were state-worshipping rituals for important state days, maybe about every other month. And these rituals (lineups and marches with flags, standing guard to monuments) applied to the members of the children's organisation of the party, not to every schoolchild. Well, pretty much everyone was the member of the organisation, but still the frequency of the rituals was rather sparse, more of a (mildly frustrating) festive occasion instead of a daily routine.

The pledge of allegiance is flat out regime propaganda, brainwashing and indoctrination, particularly if there are more rituals like it, and it can be deemed responsible for much of the irrational faith of average Americans in their country's uniqueness. They believe that nobody else has rights but America, nobody else has Constitution, nobody else has Democracy, Freedoms etc. You personally are not as bad as the (luckily dormant) SF, but a pretty bad specimen still. But I don't blame you for failing to question the indoctrination. I blame the entire country. Americans rarely recognise propaganda (as in distinguish it from plain neutral factual information) when they see it. This is one of the sources of the polarisation of the country right now.

To my knowledge, it's not required in any of California's public schools... My children (and most of my extant family) were educated here, and the lack hasn't seemed to do them harm...

California
The state of California requires the pledge to be recited, but leaves oversight to school districts.
Could it be that your children's school districts are neglecting the pledge of allegiance? You could run for the district board and rectify the matter :knight: or at least do some fiery speeches and liberty marches like many did against the masks and vaccines.

I trust I've answered your questions in a way that meets with your approval, for clarity and completeness anyway. I'll vouch for my honesty! :) (You'll just have to take my word for that!)
:up:

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #21
The pledge of allegiance is flat out regime propaganda, brainwashing and indoctrination
Your penchant for extreme reaction (and your projection of it to others...) is an amazing sight to behold! The Pledge of Allegiance is an innocuous display of fellow-feeling, unencumbered by political (Party) trappings.[1]
You perhaps begrudge us our republic? Better to worry that we lose it, to Democracy or Autocracy!  Self interest alone should convince you: Our economic and military might are (...at least, were; certainly, should be) constrained by our peculiar form of government.

You could run for the district board and rectify the matter  :knight:  or at least do some fiery speeches and liberty marches like many did against the masks and vaccines.
:) Not a fan of performance art as political action! Supporting good candidates for office, keeping the ins advised of problems they're positioned to solve and opportunities (for their polity) they're empowered to pursue; advocating for (or against) proposed propositions[2] Participating in the prescribed facilities of Recall —  of failed, feckless or fatuous officials. Petitioning -especially in the form of suits to reign in excess and overreach- the government for redress of grievances is one of our enumerated rights! (That is to say, one that the government is specifically tasked to protect...)
(There will always be people who prefer ineffectual public display over prudent and persistent participation... Like the folks who'd burn an official in effigy, instead of effecting a recall or mounting an electoral challenge.)
And -since I'm not a joiner, by nature- my participation is situated at the most sensible level: Grass roots? Call it that if you want... I talk to people face to face; neighbors, family, friends, acquaintances — and whoever I run into.
Regime, you say? We make no pledge to Dear Leader or ruling party...
Laws enacted by popular vote — up to and including amendments to our State Constitution.
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #22
The Pledge of Allegiance is an innocuous display of fellow-feeling, unencumbered by political (Party) trappings.
Innocuous is the wrong word, because you are not denying the effects I described:  Irrational faith of average Americans in their country's uniqueness. Even Third Reich or Stalinist USSR did not have this level of indoctrination and brainwashing for children.

Regime, you say? We make no pledge to Dear Leader or ruling party...
Given the effects it has, it makes no difference to the children whether you worship a specific party or the flag and the republic. Children can make no difference.

By the way, why do you personally worship just one party?

You perhaps begrudge us our republic?
I am opposed to USA's colonialism. From the outside, USA looks like a colonial empire.

It matters little to me that from the inside it may look like a republic. Well, it of course is a republic - so are almost all countries in the world. Republic is just a word that does not describe anything because it is applicable everywhere. Rome was a republic too, until Caesar made it into an empire, but it was a colonial empire all along throughout both the republican and imperial eras.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #23
I am yet to find an American who'd think the children's daily flag-worship remarkable in any way. But let me tell you that it's extraordinarily remarkable. I am not aware of evidence that even Third Reich or Stalinist USSR had this level of indoctrination and brainwashing for children. They sure as hell had indoctrination and brainwashing and it had its effects, but this did not come in a daily worship ritual for all school-going children.
Nazi Germany copied the creepy totalitarian pledge, the weird salute, and apartheid from America.

Edit: although the pledge thing may have been limited to the Hitlerjugend/mädel.

Re: (Not) All about Biden

Reply #24
I am opposed to USA's colonialism. From the outside, USA looks like a colonial empire.
Pray tell: What countries have we conquered? Which do we occupy? Which do we administer and tax?
[The USA] of course is a republic - so are almost all countries
Indeed, most dictatorships and oligarchies call themselves republics! "Moses supposes his toeses are roses..." :)
Republic is just a word that does not describe anything because it is applicable everywhere.
It's meaning is plain; its widespread mis-application doesn't make the meaning less descriptive...

@ersi: Yes, I'd say average Americans believe in America's uniqueness. Is it faith? (Isn't all faith irrational?) :)

@Frenzie: "creepy totalitarian pledge"...? What about the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is creepy or totalitarian?
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)